U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Antibiotics: Too much of a good thing

Antibiotics are important medications that save countless lives. Because of misuse and overuse, many of these drugs have become ineffective against an increasing number of virulent, bacteria-induced infections. These antibiotic-resistant afflictions are a growing public health concern. It is a case of too much of a good thing creating harm.

In the United States, 270 million prescriptions for antibiotics are written annually. When used properly to treat disorders caused by bacteria, these pharmaceuticals cure the malady, prevent the spread of the illness and reduce severity.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses that induce the common cold, flu, acute bronchitis, allergies...